The question is whether cockfighting is categorically a crime of moral turpitude such that it gets you deported and ineligible for relief.
The particular case isn't an especially heinous one either. Judge Owens artfully puts it this way, the first sentence of which (especially the parenthetical) brought a smile to my face:
"[Defendant] was hardly the Don
Corleone (or even the Fredo) of this enterprise. Rather, as the
government’s sentencing position detailed: 'his involvement
in the overall crime was relatively minor compared to' the
other defendants in the case. His punishment—one year of
probation with no jail time—reflected his limited culpability.
He has no other convictions."
Fredo. Too funny.
One other portion of the opinion also curled the sides of my mouth upward, albeit less intentionally. In the midst of holding the cockfighting is probably not categorically a crime of moral turpitude, Judge Owens says: "Congress has declared cockfighting a scourge that
warrants prosecution, and we have no quarrel with that." A sentiment that I personally happen to agree with.
But then he drops a footnote that says: "Unlike dogfighting, which is illegal everywhere in the United States,
cockfighting remains legal in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto
Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands." Well, yeah. That footnote seems an important caveat. Especially when the relevant inquiry includes the fact that "[t]he BIA defined moral turpitude as “'conduct
which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to
the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between
persons or to society in general.'" If there are jurisdictions in the United States that allow the thing, that's some evidence that it's not necessarily "contrary to the accepted rules of morality," no?